Start: Geraldine
Finish: Manuka Hut
Distance: 28km

After Wayne picked us up in Geraldine to take us around the Rangitata River we decided to try cut a few KMs off so got dropped off at Lake Clearwater at 11am and headed off through the valley.

We started climbing the first and only hill of the day and my mind wasn’t in it. I felt so disconnected, no matter what I tried I couldn’t bring myself back to the present moment. Maybe it was because I knew we had a lot of KMs to do today and that we started a lot later than I would have liked. Whatever it was, it made for a quiet walk.

We got to the saddle and had a quick chat to the SOBOs there (forgetting to take photos) before starting the slog along the flat.

After a few more hours we reached the gravel road which indicated 16km done, 12km to go. We sat down for a rest and hoped for a car to go past that would pick us up. It was only 4km up the road, but if it was 4km we didn’t have to walk then even better.

2 cars passed without stopping and when the 3rd started slowing down we were happy. She rolled down her window and told us that normally she would but that her car was full, and then she drove off.

Angry that she’d given me false hope, we set off along the dusty gravel road, my feet aching with every step.

And man, it was hot. The sun was beating off the road and with no shelter it made an already-terrible road walk even worse.

Eventually we turned off the road again and lay down in the grass for a rest.

I could have stayed there forever, it was so comfy and so good to get off my feet for a bit, but we still had 8km to go.

We started walking again along a 4WD track to Lake Emily, my feet forming new blisters.

From here the sign said 4.5km and 1.5 hours to Manuka Hut. It was 5.30pm so that didn’t put us getting there until 7pm, which was quite late for us.

So we stuck our heads down and begun the gruelling final KMs, up and down another steep hill before a slog along a 4WD track to the hut turnoff. Crossing the stream we reached the hut and I collapsed on my bunk, quickly having dinner before calling it a night.